Content that is “accessible” strives to be inclusive by providing the best user experience to as many individuals as possible.
It’s a shift away from addressing “your average user” and instead towards targeting a broader audience by removing barriers and providing a number of options for people to engage.
Don’t be put off already! You shouldn’t need to make any drastic changes as a lot of users who benefit from accessible content are already likely to have their own methods of making social media accessible, such as text-to-speech and magnification tools. Additionally, some platforms such as TikTok natively include accessibility features within the platform. By making a few small changes to your content, you can easily engage a much wider audience.
For those who are blind or partly sighted, describing photographs, or inserting alternative text (alt text) helps them to form a mental image of what someone who is seeing sees naturally.
Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, don’t fall into thinking you have to use a thousand words to describe your image. It’s no doubt frustrating to hear an accurate description of what everyone in the crowd is wearing at a concert, when you’re only interested about the band on stage -simply select a few key details that help to paint the scene.
you generally don't have to say 'image of' or 'photograph of'. Just describe what the image is conveying – what the user is intended to get out of seeing it. Some examples:
— Robot Hugs (@RobotHugsComic) January 5, 2018
LinkedIn (only currently available for desktop) – Once you’ve attached your image to the post, click ‘add alt text’ where you can write your description before pressing ‘save’.
Facebook – Upload your photo to Facebook, then select ‘edit photo’ and write your description in the ‘alternative text’ box. Then simply click save and you’re good to go.
Twitter – Fortunately for the character conscious, you can add a separate description to an image on Twitter. You must enable the ‘image descriptions’ feature in ‘Twitter settings,’ under the ‘accessibility’ tab. Then when you go to post, attach your image as usual and click ‘alt’ to enter your description before posting as usual.
Instagram – After choosing your photo to upload, select ‘next’, ‘advanced settings,’ and then ‘write alt text.’ You can then add a description and click done to share to the feed. Instagram Stories have recently introduced auto-generated captions to help translate what’s being spoken to text.
If someone is using a screen reader, any emojis used will be read as their description. For example, the 💁 emoji will be spoken out loud as “person tipping hand” which may not convey its intended use. Taking that into consideration, you should never use emojis to communicate a core message and only use those of which their official descriptions express the point you are intending to make.
#LongHashtagsCanBeHardToRead and are even harder to read when Camel Case isn’t used #likethisexample. When each word is capitalised, not only are hashtags easier to read, but they are also read out correctly when being spoken out loud and avoid misinterpretation.
A call to action should always be included where a link is involved, and it should be clear what the user can expect when following the link. For example, “Click here to browse our new kitchenware”, as opposed to simply “click here”. This helps those using text-to-speech tools to understand their potential journey.
The practises involved in publishing accessible content is ever-evolving; people’s needs change and new platforms and technologies emerge. Increasingly often, making content more accessible benefits everyone as it can heighten the amount of users who see your content as alt text can help social media platforms understand the image and fewer emojis and camel case lays out the copy in a clear format for the algorithm to comprehend.
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